Sunday, April 27, 2014

Forget your weaknesses, increase your strengths.

  We get the message over and over, "work on your weaknesses". Nonsense. Do you think Michael Jordan should have studied Spanish instead of practicing basketball? Or maybe Michelangelo should have spend time learning more about banking from the Medici family? Maybe, or more likely, probably not.

   When I was in high school, my parents were very keen for me to study engineering. A fine idea, except for the fact that I wasn't even remotely interested in it. I liked business, and frankly, making money. Learning more about how airplanes stayed aloft wasn't in my circle of interests. 

   Now to listen to many gurus, I should have worked on my weaknesses. Why? So I could be bored and disenchanted with school? Possibly knowing more about certain things would have served me in some way. Except I didn't care then, and I don't care now. I can buy the books, but I'll always read something else ahead of them, and they'll sit unread for the rest of my days.

   I've taken the liberty of indulging my strengths. As a result, I've had a very nice business career, and a ton of fun. It's not to say that I haven't done considerable learning and growing along the way, but I think pushing myself into directions I wasn't interested in would have done pretty much nothing for me. 

   Truth be told, if you want to be really amazing at something it takes a focused effort. I'm no "super star" but I've done well, and I don't think it would have happened without having been extremely focused on business. Because I had a keen interest from an early age.

   Furthermore, I could read something every day and not come close to knowing everything about the things I am interested in within my field. You just keep banging away trying to stay a few steps ahead of the competition. 

   If you look at the top people in virtually every field, they got there through a keen focus on one item. Yo Yo Ma is an amazing cellist, Warren Buffet is a remarkable investor, Wayne Gretzky was a phenomenal hockey player. Focus, focus, focus. 

  Given the limited amount of time available to all of us, I say focus on your strengths. It's enough work just to maximize them.


  1. Thank you Tim. Sometimes we give in to the pressures of trying to be all things to everyone. My gut instinct is to keep doing what I am naturally good at and stop trying to be something that I am not. It's good to see that developing and focusing on your strengths has worked well for you.